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Smart Home

Google Home officially plugs into the smart home

Belkin's might be the first in a line of critical smart home partnerships for Google Home.

Google has a long way to go before it matches Amazon's smart home presence, and the hardest step is often the first. So today's announcement by Belkin -- that its WeMo line of smart home products will work with Google Home and Google Assistant -- might not be surprising, but it is a critical early step for the platform.

Practically, Belkin's announcement means Google Home owners can pick up Belkin WeMo products and use them with "Hey, Google" commands.

The news comes on the heels of Google announcing its expansion of Weave, the language that lets Google Home "talk" to smart home devices like the Nest Thermostat. According to this earlier announcement, Weave will soon connect devices by Belkin, Lifx, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, and First Alert. This was important news, considering Google Home's partnerships were so meager at its release -- limited to Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTT.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

But in the tech world, "soon" can mean almost anything; just look at Apple HomeKit's tortuous history. So it's encouraging for Google Home early adopters to see "soon" mean "now." You can now control your Belkin WeMo smart plugs and switches using Google Home and Google Assistant commands. It's a small step, but a vital one.

Belkin's announcement also bodes well for the other partnerships coming "soon" to Weave. Perhaps controlling your Lifx, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, and First Alert devices by saying, "Hey Google," isn't so far-fetched.

With multiple years comfortably under its belt, Amazon Echo has enjoyed a significant head start in the voice automation market. But Belkin's announcement signals an end to Echo's de facto dominance: 2016 will be the last year the smart home market is won by default.